With every birthday, every new wrinkle and every grey hair, it’s perfectly natural to look at the reflection in the mirror and wish you could turn back time. So today, Nikki looks at simple diet and lifestyle changes which can halt – and even reverse – the aging process.
There is not a woman out there who doesn’t – or won’t at some stage – battle with wrinkles, sags and bags.
But there are ways to slow down the effects of age on your body, hair and skin.
Superfoods to the rescue
The following foods have healing qualities which can leave you feeling younger and more energetic from the inside out:
This is a miracle food where aging is concerned but the explanation as to why is fairly complex… so bear with me.
Whey has been shown to increase your body’s stores of the antioxidant glutathione which is known to increase the integrity of telomeres. Telomeres are bundles of DNA found in every cell, and they shorten with age.
Researchers suspect telomeres shorten due to damage by free radicals.
As far as anti-aging is concerned, upping the amount of whey protein you eat means you can actually lengthen telomeres which could, in theory, reverse aging.
Eggs contain nine essential amino acids and plenty of protein. Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones.
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce are great sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have shown eating foods rich in these antioxidants can significantly reduce your risk of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are also packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin C, and sulforaphane.
Spinach also provides folate, which research shows can dramatically improve your short-term memory.
Some leafy greens like collard and salad greens contain vitamin K1, which is linked to good vascular health, and this means less varicose veins
Broccoli is another dark green, antioxidant rich vegetable which holds the powers of healing and disease prevention.
It contains the highest amount of isothiocyanates, a cancer-fighting compound, of all the crunchy vegetables.
Other vegetables containing isothiocyanate include Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and watercress.
Blueberries have 40% more antioxidant capacity than strawberries, are high in vitamin C and can help strengthen collagen formation, thereby reducing the signs of aging.
They also help your body neutralise free radicals, molecules that can harm brain cells and brain function.
The component of garlic, allicin, digests in your body and produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts faster with dangerous free radicals than any other known compound.
On top of this garlic helps relax and enlarge the blood vessels in your body, improving blood flow, especially to your heart.
Both garlic and onions can increase your protection against cancer too.
Four decades ago, researchers from the Seven Countries Study concluded that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil were largely responsible for the low rates of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. Now we know that olive oil also contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases.
While the age-defying powers of yogurt never have been proven directly, yogurt is rich in calcium, which helps stave off osteoporosis and contains “good bacteria” that help maintain gut health and diminish the incidence of age-related intestinal illness.
Other tips to keep you young
Here are some other ways to slow down the march of old age:
- Be happy – Stress can dramatically affect our minds and bodies. Fill your life with things you love and get rid of almost everything else. Happiness does a body good.
- Moisturise – The appearance of your skin is largely dependent upon moisture. Help it out by using moisturisers to keep your skin soft and hydrated.
- Sleep – this a vital determinant of how you look and feel. Aim for eight hours a night.
- Wear suncream – there is nothing as aging as the effects of the sun on your skin. Wrinkles and sunspots are all attributed to exposure to UV rays – not to mention skin cancer.
- Don’t smoke – Smoking is one of the easiest ways to look older than you really are and shorten your life at the same time.
- Drink water – hydration is the best way to keep skin plumped up and wrinkle free. Stay hydrated by sipping water and eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
- Exercise – it’s vital for vascular health, helps you build strong, toned muscles and makes you feel good too.
As well as packing your diet full of good food, there are also ones best avoided. The three most ageing foods are:
Sugar – A diet full of highly sugared foods slows the body’s ability to regenerate itself and so speeds the ageing process. It is the most ageing food of all.
Salt – Despite being an essential compound, salt is ageing simply because we eat too much of it. It’s a cheap flavour enhancer as well as a preservative. A high-salt diet causes inflammation: the cells swell with water, which upsets your sodium/potassium balance that generates the energy needed to move muscles and nerves, causing weakness and fatigue.
Bad fats – Fats are essential for maintaining cell structure, helping the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and for healthy-looking skin, brain function, mood and energy.
But bad fats – transfats or hydrogenated fats – interfere with cell function and have also been linked to depression, coronary heart disease, raising bad cholesterol and lowering good, and increasing the risk of degenerative diseases.
No miracle cure
In the perennial quest for longevity, there are no miracle cures. But what’s on your plate matters more than you think. Simple changes to diet and lifestyle can have huge positive consequences on the way you look – and feel.